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Olga Arkhakova, About the Construction of Two Temples in Elista

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Terbish, Baasanjav 
Churyumova, Elvira 


Olga talks about the construction of two temples in Elista, the Geden Sheddup Choikorling Temple (Arshan Temple) and the Golden Abode of the Buddha Shakyamuni (Central Temple). She says that at the end of the 1980s and the beginning of the 1990s there was a great demand in Kalmykia for religious buildings. The first temple to be built during this period was a temple near the village of Solnechnyi, on the outskirts of Elista. Its architect was Vladimir Gilyandikov. Olga was among those who were present at the ceremony of laying its foundation. The temple, Geden Sheddup Choikorling, was built quickly. At that time, a consensus was that temples should have canonical shape and measurements based on Tibetan style. Later there was a new demand for a larger temple. So the Central Temple in Elista was built, also known as the Golden Abode of the Buddha Shakyamuni. It took a long time to find a suitable place for its construction. Finally, a decision was made on the territory of a former factory in the centre of Elista. It was the Dalai Lama himself who chose this place. A large collective of designers and architects under the leadership of Sergei Kurneev quickly designed the temple. Telo Tulku Rinpoche actively participated in the project, giving advice. For example, there is a statue of Tsagan Aav in front of the Central Temple. Telo Tulku Rinpoche advised on the form and line of the eyes that the statue should have. According to the initial plan, the height of the Central Temple was different from what it is today. After a consultation, Telo Tulku Rinpoche decided that its height should be 27 metres. The calculation was done as follows. A rosary has 108 beads. If 108 / 2 = 54. If 54 / 2 = 27. The carpets, and other furniture inside the Temple were designed according to certain pictures, and special orders were sent to factories. The Temple has been built according to a mandala principle and divided into four parts. Other rules were also applied, including the position of the main doors facing south.



Architecture, Buddhism, temples, Geden Sheddup Choikorling Temple, Golden Abode of the Buddha Shakyamuni

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Kalmyk Cultural Heritage Documentation Project, University of Cambridge

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Sponsored by Arcadia Fund, a charitable fund of Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin.